My news feed is full of jubilant photos of doctors and nurses announcing their vaccinations. I consider taking my own photo, but then hesitate. Because just a few floors up, there are dozens of patients who cannot breathe, who are scared and alone, who might die simply because they shared a holiday dinner. I find myself, nine months into this pandemic, vaccinated and yet still on a pendulum swinging between hope and despair.
Outside, the snow falls. Already it feels like a long winter. Here in the hospital, the anxious adrenaline of the spring has given way to a heavy, lingering sadness. We are caring for patients who have sacrificed and taken precautions for months and now — bending under the pain of isolation, starved for human connection — might die simply because they decided to spend time indoors with people they love or to go out to dinner. I have been careful so long, they must have thought. Humans are inherently optimistic, notoriously bad at assessing risk. Surely this one small thing will be OK.